It’s been a long time now since my last blog post, and therefore welcome back and to a new fresh look! Professionally there’s been a few changes and also been very busy with various other things. However my new role, which has been a promotion, and a big step up in terms of roles and responsibility has led me, in my albeit limited time away from the business, to consider really what “leadership” means. It’s one of those things that will have different meanings for different people in different contexts, and it is this variety that I guess has led to academics and practitioners to study the concept in-depth for years. Across business, sport, politics and all avenues of life, there are examples, good and bad, of leaders and leadership styles, all of which we can at least learn something from, although we don’t necessarily have to agree with everything they do or say. Here I’ve taken a quick look at some examples of sports people, business people, and a couple of others who demonstrate what modern leadership really means:
Leadership in Sport:
- Antonio Conte, Chelsea: Ability to turnaround a team of failures, who had finished 10th in the 2015/16 Premier League season, into Champions of England 12 months later. Giving confidence to his players and team and being passionately behind them gave an energy and a renewed winning mentality.
- Sam Warburton, British & Irish Lions: As the British & Irish Lions set off to New Zealand in Summer 2017, nobody really gave them a hope in hell of being successful, predicting that this team that had been put together from the best of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, would struggle to be cohesive against the dominant force of the All Blacks. However through Warburton’s belief in both his own abilities and the ability of the players, and in a way through determination to prove people wrong, this undoubtedly played a crucial role in the ultimately successful drawn series result.
- Chris Froome, Team Sky: cycling is one of those strange ones, a bit like Formula1, in which it is an individual sport as much as a team one. In this situation, Froome is identified very much as “the leader” of the team, which means that his team spend hours, days and weeks working together to ensure the leader is ultimately victorious. Creating a team ethic and recognising the work that your team do is undoubtedly a trait of modern leadership.
- Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United: Unprecedented years of sustained success, a legacy of coaching, mentoring and training, and ability to install belief and confidence.
“My job was to make everyone understand that the impossible was possible. That’s the difference between management and leadership”
- Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea, AC Milan, Bayern Munich: A coaching career that has been spent at the biggest football clubs in the world, spanning several countries and cultures, will undoubtedly provide some leadership lessons (from Quiet Leadership); demonstrate trust, be able to delegate and encourage ownership, show loyalty, be an open and effective communicator across all levels of the organisation; be true to yourself!
Leadership in Literature and Politics
- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “A true leader does what is right, no matter what others think”
- Nelson Mandela: “Lead from the back, and let others believe they are in front”
- Barack Obama, former POTUS: Obama’s leadership of the USA and the Free World was a demonstration for many on how to lead with authenticity, pragmatism, and respect of everybody on all levels.
Ultimately, leadership is what each person makes of it, and there is certainly no definite right or wrong way to approach it; what might work on a sports field, may not work in a business, and may not work in politics. However across different sectors we can learn from different styles and approaches and form our own management and leadership styles.
For me, being in a position of power and responsibility, means staying grounded, taking advice and listening to all members of your team, not being afraid to do the “dirty work” and showing authenticity, is what leadership stands for.